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Disney has apparently removed an episode of The Simpsons from its local Disney+ streaming service in Hong Kong over a joke that mentioned Chinese labor camps.
The Hollywood studio declined to comment on the apparent censorship after local critics pointed to the omission of The Simpsons episode from its 34th season on Disney+. But it’s understood Disney acted in the face of new local laws and regulations, and specifically looked to avoid a violation of China’s National Security Law that applies to Hong Kong.
The One Angry Lisa episode premiered on Hulu in the U.S. market in Oct. 2022, but that streamer isn’t available in Hong Kong, which sent the animated comic offering to Disney’s local streaming service.
In the episode from The Simpsons‘ 34th season, Marge embraces her indoor exercise bike as it sends her on a virtual ride in China that includes the audio commentary: “Behold the wonders of China: Bitcoin mines, forced labor camps where children make smartphones, and romance.”
Also in October 2022, Hong Kong’s opposition-free legislature passed a new censorship law banning films deemed to be against China’s national security interests. The film censorship law also called into question the content offered on internationally owned streaming platforms that had, until the legal changes, operated freely in Hong Kong.
Disney+ recently entered the Hong Kong market like U.S. rivals via regional licensing deals. Hong Kong’s National Security Law, originally passed in June 2020, has had far-reaching impacts on its politics, the media, education and the arts.
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